Business consultant and coach advice

A fundamental rule for success – Delegate!

Delegation matters!

No matter what size or type of business or organisation you work in or own, delegation matters. If you are a leader then invest the time to learn and become a great delegator.

The first rule of management is delegation. Don’t try and do everything yourself because you can’t.” … Anthea Turner

“No man will make a great leader who wants to do it all himself”. … Andrew Carnegie.

Delegation is a fundamental leadership skill and essential for leadership success. Leaders cannot perform all the work expected in their area themselves. Consequently, effective allocation of work to individuals or teams is essential. Delegation can have different purposes, including to distribute work, balance the use of resources, reduce bottlenecks, provide development opportunities, build engagement, motivate, improve productivity and to ensure appropriate expertise is applied to tasks.

Delegation requires planning, a structured approach, discipline, support, coaching and follow-up.

Some of the common causes for not delegating effectively include lack of trust, perfectionism, unrealistic expectations, poor delegation skills and a failure to invest properly in the process.

“The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it.” … Theodore Roosevelt

Delegation tips

  • Are you too busy?  Doing too much yourself? Ask yourself – is this a task I should be doing? Manage your time better, get out of the detail and decide what you should delegate.
  • Not sure where to start? Take the time to analyse what is stopping you from delegating – perfectionism, trust, skills, concern for others, risk aversion, prefer doing it yourself, worry about the quality if you let go, excuse for not focusing on the critical?
  • Analyse your day. Write down all your responsibilities or tasks. Look at your desk or inbox. Review your email Inbox. Consider what you are paid to do. What are others paid to do? Is the balance right? What is the best investment of your time? What are you doing that you should not be doing? What are you not doing that you should be doing? Decide what is important and essential that you perform. Be ruthless. Delegate the rest.
  • Where needed, spend your time helping others learn to do it rather than doing it yourself. That is an investment that will pay major dividends.
  • Invest the time to delegate properly. One mistake is failing to plan the delegation. Don’t simply throw work at people.  Delegation is an investment that requires careful planning and execution. Be clear about the aims for delegating, performance expected, timeframe for delivery, how you will communicate, the skills required versus the skills of the person or team, what support will be required and what the follow up plan is.
  • Follow a structured and disciplined delegation process.  If you don’t have a structured delegation model then get one. Search the web, find relevant readings, review previous training materials, ask your manager or mentor, and find out if your organisation uses a specific model.
  • Provide people with clarity about what has to be done, why and when.
  • Set clear objectives, perform regular reviews, be available to support and give valuable feedback.
  • Allow realistic timeframes – expect that others will take longer to perform tasks than you. Don’t set timeframes based on your own capability.
  • Ask your team – what work do I perform that you could do and what help would you need?
  • Don’t micromanage!  Set checkpoints and be available to help but don’t look over shoulders.

“Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.” … General George Smith Patton, Jr.

“Don’t be a bottleneck; If a matter is not a decision for the President or you, delegate it; Force responsibility down and out; Find problem areas, add structure and delegate; The pressure is to do the reverse; Resist it.” … Donald Rumsfeld

“Delegating work works, provided the one delegating works too”. … Robert Half

“If you don’t know what to do with many of the papers piled on your desk, stick a dozen colleagues initials on them and pass them along. When in doubt, route.” … Malcom S. Forbes

Business technology systems and innovation

Tip for improving business results – Challenge the status quo!

Interested in improving business results?  How does the saying go? If you continue to do what you have always done you will get the same result.  Well that may or may not be true in business. True, poor processes or poor service will no doubt lead to continued poor results. On the other hand, business results may have been very good but continuing to do the same thing may lead to future decreases in business performance and possibly even business failure. This could be due to factors like changing customer needs, habits or buying processes, new competitor offerings, competitor use of new technologies, new products or services displacing ours, supply chain factors, political changes, economic changes and more. Also, just because results are very good does not necessarily mean they could not be even better.

An essential skill for any small business owner is the ability to challenge the status quo with a view to improving business results, service, products, business processes, staying ahead of competitors, engaging staff or suppliers and ultimately ensuring ongoing success and more profit.

So, business owners and leaders should continually ask questions and seriously challenge the current ways of working. Who should they ask – themselves, their leaders, their staff, their customers, their suppliers and other experts. All of them! Questions for improving business results could include the following and many more.

  • Is there is there a better way to deliver our service or product?
  • How can we better serve our customers?
  • In what ways could we be more efficient?
  • Are we properly focused on market opportunities? How can we be better at maximising our market opportunities?
  • How could we better engage our staff?
  • What do we know about our competitors and what they are doing?
  • Do we understand available and potential new technologies and how they could benefit our business (or our competitors if not us)? Have we actually tried to experience these technologies.
  • How could we improve our processes to benefit customers, staff and management?
  • Have we identified critical risks and implemented mitigation plans? Are we truly prepared if they eventuate?

Here are a few suggestions:

  • Take a serious look at competitors and potential competitors. Look at their website. Call them. Visit their premises if they have one. Try buying something. Find their customers and ask them about their experience with the competitor.
  • Take a field trip. Go and spend time with customers, visit competitors, visit suppliers. Go to a different market or geographic region to see what they are doing.
  • Experiment. Try it. Experiential learning is critical. For example, if you don’t experience a new technology, service or product then how can you understand the potential uses, benefits and implications for your business or how it may be implemented?
  • Ask your customers.  Talk to them about their needs and their experience of your service or products. Conduct a survey (but make it brief and targeted – don’t bombard them).
  • Ask your staff. Engage them in the process. You might be surprised at the ideas and knowledge they have.
  • Talk to suppliers. They may have invaluable knowledge about opportunities. They are also likely supplying your competitors and have knowledge about them.
  • Look around. Look at other business and industries to see what you can learn from them.
  • Do some targeted research. Check out the web, YouTube, readings and other sources.

The capacity to challenge the status quo is a critical skill for business leaders in improving business results.  If you would like to find out more about how we can help, please contact Simulthink or click here for more information on our innovation management services.

Business coaching

A tip for Small Business owners and leaders – Take time out from the operations to Think and Act strategically!

Business owners and leaders constantly find themselves caught up in the operational and day to day. That is completely understandable.  Small business owners typically have to be a jack of all trades. Customers, marketing, sales, products, services, systems, processes, human resources, financial, technology, communications don’t wait. They all have to be managed by someone – and usually there is no department to do it. Just the owner or business leader and a hand full of staff.  No wonder one of the major pitfalls for business owners is failing to take the time out from operations to think and act strategically or do some business planning. Somehow, business leaders need to find the time to do both – the strategic planning and the operational.  So, here are a few simple steps and tips to get started and create the time for business planning and strategy.

In summary, the key steps are:

  1. Delegate
  2. Do something different
  3. Summarise the current business or AS-IS
  4. Define the Vision for the business or TO-BE
  5. Articulate a compelling Case for Action
  6. Develop and execute the plan

The first step for business owners and leaders is to DELEGATE as much of their operational and tactical workload as possible.  Leaders should review their role and separate out their operational workload from their strategic workload. Seriously ask – how much time do I spend on planning for the future.  Then get curious about the future and invest the right amount of time in planning for it.

The second step is to DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT from the normal day to day. Get out of the office.  Take key staff with you. Go on a field trip. Use the wealth of strategic planning processes and tools available – SWOT, Visioning, Values development, BCG Matrix, Portfolio Analysis, Competitor analysis, etc. There are many tools available to help business leaders think differently. In need, get a consultant to help.

The third step is to clearly articulate the current state of the business or the AS-IS and summarise it – finances, resources, operations, staff, structure, customers, services, products, systems, processes, technology, communications, etc.?  Understanding the starting point is fundamental to any journey.

The fourth step is to take the time to consider the possibilities and imagine the future or TO-BE for the business. Describe the vision for the business and time frame to achieve it. In other words, what will the business look like in the future and when? What markets will be served? What services or products will be offered?  What is happening in the industry elsewhere in the world? What will the customers look like? What will the staff look like and what skills will they have? What will the systems and processes look like?  What technology opportunities will be leveraged? What will competitors be doing and offering? If you cannot articulate the future then how will you know what needs to be achieved for success?

The fifth step is to create the CASE FOR ACTION. Consider both the AS-IS (current state of the business) and the TO-BE (or vision for the business) and make a list of the compelling reasons for change. The Vision needs to be inspiring but the Case for Action has to be the driving and motivating reasons for change. Maybe customers won’t need your current services.  Maybe new technologies will make your products or services obsolete. You may have to create new efficiencies to remain profitable or to be competitive. Staff may need completely new skill sets to achieve the vision. Create an explicit list.

Beyond these steps, the plan will need to be developed and executed.  But that will be another tip. In our experience, Execution matters more than the inspiration. Great strategies and business plans require great execution.  Without effective execution, plans are worthless.  That is why we created Simulthink – to help leaders, business owners and teams Think and Act Together!  Click here for more information about business planning and strategy.

Team building team development

Building a team requires discipline

Most leaders have a highly developed set of technical skills and call upon experience and a proven body of knowledge in their field of expertise or their industry. But when it comes to teamwork many leaders “make it up” and fail to apply any discipline to their team development efforts. That is, they don’t take the time to invest in learning more about best practice in leadership and teamwork, or to seek professional help.

Building cohesive and effective teamwork is essential for business, organisational or leadership success.  Effective teamwork  requires leadership, clear direction, common goals that team members are aligned with and committed to achieving, clearly defined roles and accountabilities, effective delegation, the necessary skill sets, the right resources, cooperation, team support, the capacity or processes to resolve conflict effectively and more. That’s a lot! So, where to start? Here are a few tips.

  1. Invest the time to learn about teamwork – reading, web, coaching.
  2. Take a planned and disciplined approach to building teamwork.
  3. Get expertise and an independent view – hire a team coach.

Here is a reference to some ideas on teamwork and building effective teams.


Want to improve your retail business? Catch the productivity wave in integrated business systems.

Walked into a retail store lately and experienced the sales person processing transactions using an iPad or tablet and not the traditional cash register? Take notice, because these tablet based point of sales systems will become common place in a short period of time.  Why? Because they improve business productivity and create business efficiencies along with enhanced customer service and invaluable real time management information. Furthermore, these retail business systems are extremely flexible and low cost to implement and maintain.

AND, they seamlessly integrate with a range of other retail business systems to create even greater business efficiencies and business opportunities.

Improve your retail business productivity!

Consider the range of integrated business systems including:

  • Point of Sale
  • Payments
  • Accounting
  • Management information systems
  • On-line shopping
  • Project management

The new point of sale systems act not only as a cash register but also maintain inventory, run loyalty systems and accept the complete range of standard and emerging methods of payment.  But more significantly, they integrate with the new wave of accounting systems as well as on-line stores.  No more duplication of customer, product and financial records across systems.

Impressed? We certainly are and we can help you take on these retail business systems and join this quiet technology revolution.  Still sceptical? Have a look at the following systems that we recommend:

  • Point of Sale & Payments – Vend
  • Accounting – Xero
  • On line store – Shopify

Don’t get left behind

All businesses now have to be in the technology business. The best retail businesses are taking up the challenge and gaining a competitive advantage.  Don’t get left behind.

If you would like to find out more, please contact us at Simulthink.

Business innovation management

The benefits of innovation may have no relation to the size of the innovation itself

Innovation is simply the introduction of something new – e.g. knowledge, an idea, a method, a device or a technology. Innovation is at the heart of ongoing business and organisation success.  Business survival depends upon innovation, whether incremental or fundamental.  Importantly, the benefits of innovation may have no relationship to the size of the innovation itself.  Small changes to products, services or processes can sometimes deliver transformational business benefits.  So, business leaders need to be mindful of small changes that have the potential to deliver major benefits.

Business leaders should challenge themselves, their teams and their staff to innovate by questioning existing approaches to planning, resourcing, service, products, systems and technology and introducing new concepts, processes and ways of thinking. Innovation may be required to become the leader in a field.  Maybe, innovation is required to keep up with competitors.  Innovation may be small or possibly transformational.

As we have pointed out, an important point is that innovation can range from very small changes to major change.  The benefits of the change may have no relation to the size of the innovation and the level of work involved in implementation.  Very small changes can sometimes have business transforming effects.

Consider the successful organisations of today and the way they operate, the products they provide or the services they deliver.  We challenge you to identify any successful organisation that has not achieved its success through innovation – either as a leader of change or a follower.  On the other hand, there is a long list of organisations that no longer exist because of a failure to innovate effectively.

Here are some key questions to ask.

  • What creativity processes and tools do you use?
  • Do you have an innovation culture and, if not, how do you develop one?
  • How effective are your problem solving and decision making processes?
  • Have you performed a competitor analysis?
  • Have you searched for, and experienced, best practice?
  • How successful are you at converting ideas into results?
  • What processes do you have for idea generation and evaluation?
  • What attention are you paying to experiential activities – do you visit other markets, do you try to experience new technologies to understand potential uses and benefits?

Here is a reference to some ideas on innovation management.

Professional business coaching helps to rapidly develop new skills

Business leaders and managers often have strong technical skills but don’t always apply the same level of discipline to leadership and planning as they do to operational, customer and technical business needs.  Elite sports people, sporting clubs, politicians, media personalities and actors have all embraced the importance of coaching.  Businesses owners and organisational leaders should be no different.  We all can benefit from quality professional coaching and the discipline that comes with it.

Common challenges for leaders and business owners include:

  • Managing performance
  • Conflict management
  • Commercial and financial skills
  • Delegation
  • Motivating employees
  • Leading change
  • Innovative and creative thinking
  • Strategic thinking
  • Dealing with poor performance
  • Developing staff and coaching skills
  • Personal awareness and understanding impact of behaviour on others
  • Overusing strengths
  • Giving feedback
  • Developing teamwork

Here is a reference to some ideas on rapidly developing new skills through professional business coaching and leadership coaching.

Execution of strategy matters more than inspiration

In our experience, Execution matters more than the inspiration.  Great strategies and business plans require great execution.  Without effective execution, plans are worthless. Probably the most important requirement for successful implementation is the alignment of leaders and teams with the vision and what needs to be achieved.  Carefully considered and planned stakeholder management  and communication is essential. The selected approach to implementation should be customised to fit with the business or organisational context.  Implementation and project management often require different approaches, skill sets and resources at varying stages.  There are a myriad of project management approaches and processes and the best  approach will vary from one organisation and project to another.  Here is a reference to some ideas on the change implementation process and the inputs for successful execution of plans.

Business planning needs to balance the possible with the achievable

Strategic planning and business planning require the capacity to balance what may be possible with what is achievable.  A major pitfall in strategic planning and business planning is failure to implement the plan or to put in place the essential conditions for organisational or leadership success. The planning process requires expertise, processes and models to help identify the possibilities as well as to make the right strategic and business decisions.  Along the way business leaders need to put in place the skills, systems and resources to implement their plans and operate in the new strategic or business environment.  In other words, success comes from embedding the skills and processes so that successful implementation of the strategy or business plan does not depend upon their involvement alone.  Strategic planning and business planning requires consideration of many factors.  Here is a reference to some of the typical  components of the strategic planning and business planning process.

The interesting thing about coaching is that you have to trouble the comfortable, and comfort the troubled – Ric Charlesworth

Having helped many leaders to develop insights about their leadership performance through 360 degree feedback, we see the quote by Ric Charlesworth  makes such practical sense.  Leaders with great feedback need to be made uncomfortable so that they can see an area of opportunity for even greater performance.  And leaders with challenging feedback need support to develop skills, knowledge and processes in specific and focused areas.